Emily Skaja
Plant Parenthood

It’s my favorite nursery in Memphis, the one I call Plant Parenthood—

chain link fence high as a prison yard, hot asphalt and razor wire

crowned with cheerful bunting and cluttered with trash

just across the parking lot from the women’s clinic

where protestors, even now, stand outside aiming grisly posters

at passing traffic & at women shopping for a single maidenhair fern

tough enough not to die in the car. Real southern lady shit. It’s 100                     degrees

& the man dripping sweat on the succulents tells me it’s too late

in the season for peonies. He says if I wanted them, I should have tried

adding bone meal to the soil. I’m 39 & having a miscarriage, just                        waiting—

as the doctor advised—for it to pass, & if it doesn’t & I start to die

I will need to quit crying in front of this row of shriveled lemon trees

& plan a road trip to Illinois. Maybe this is it, then, my toxic trait:

wanting to appear in public with my sadness tucked pointedly in my                  coat

like a tender Italian greyhound to whom I feed little crackers.

I want everyone to know. Why else would I come here to marvel at the              lilies

of the fucking field, unless it’s to chuck a bloody maxi pad at someone

& get a spot on the nightly news, earning myself a Bless her heart?


Found In Volume 53, No. 04
Read Issue
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Emily Skaja
About the Author

 Emily Skaja's first book, BRUTE, won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets (Graywolf 2019). Her poems have been published in Best New Poets, Blackbird, and The New York Times Magazine. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Emily is the founding editor of the Poetry Prompt Generator, an online resource for poets and educators. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Memphis.